History of the MRI Cattle Society of Ireland

“All Ireland Ploughing Championship, Limerick 1991. Members of the MRI Cattle Breeders Club of Ireland: (from left to right) Christy Condon, Klaas Becker, Boy Hoff and Paul Miller”Since the 1970s, farmers in Ireland and the UK have been importing and breeding MRI cattle for dairy, beef and mixed enterprises.

This came essentially about by the Shorthorn Society’s effort to improve their breed as they embarked on a scheme known as “The Red Cow Improvement Scheme”. It is well known that the Shorthorn breed of cattle has two distinct strains, namely the beef strain and the dairy strain. The Dairy Shorthorn no longer fitted the bill for those farmers looking for a dual purpose animal. Various red breeds such as Danish Red, Normande, MRI and Angler were considered by the Shorthorn Society and tried on a controlled basis. In Ireland, Shorthorn breeder Colonel Watson of Ballingarrane Estate near Clonmel was very progressive and took an active part in the Scheme. After some extensive trials, the MRI breed of cattle was identified as fitting the criteria and has since been used by a number of Shorthorn breeders in the British Isles.

A side effect of the successful trials was that a number of breeders were so attracted by the merits of the MRI that a new breed society was formed in 1973, The MRI Cattle Society of the United Kingdom and Ireland, with a base in the UK. An upgrading scheme was introduced with the Society purchasing bulls and organising buying trips to and importation of pure-bred cattle from the Netherlands. By the mid-1980s MRI herds and Society membership in Ireland had got well established and semen sales funded the promotion and showing of Irish MRI animals at the Royal and Dairy Shows at Stoneleigh, UK. The first exhibition of MRI cattle at the National Ploughing Championships took place in 1988. To better allocate financial help to Irish breeders, the Society requested the formation of an Irish breeders club so that an entity rather than individuals could be financially supported.

“RDS Spring Cup Show 1992. Klaas Becker (pictured on left) is presented with the Woodlands Cup and the K.I. Zuid Rosette and Sash for the breed champion, by the Chairman of the MRI Cattle Society of UK and Ireland, Ms. Angela Diment, watched by judge Bernard Zwaferink.”

In 1990, the MRI Breeders Club of Ireland was established. The new Club started to enthusiastically promote the MRI breed of cattle within Ireland. The MRI Cattle Society of the UK & Ireland’s annual open day was held in Ireland for the first time in 1991 when Klaas Becker of Co. Wexford hosted the well visited event which saw a lot of breeders travelling to Ireland from the UK.

In 1992, the first week in May was a milestone in MRI history when the RDS Spring Show held four different classes for MRI cattle – the first ever in the UK and Ireland – expertly judged by Bernard Zwaferink. It was at around that time that Dovea A.I. started taking notice of the popularity of the MRI in Ireland and they commenced a steady supply of pedigree semen which has continued to this day. December saw MRI cattle on show in Northern Ireland for the first time when the UK Society had a successful exhibit at the Winter Fair of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society in Belfast.


(From left to right:) Ernest Beamish, Bernard Zwaferink and Christy Condon at Ireland’s premier dairy event, Millstreet Show in 1992.In 1993, the MRI Cattle Society of Ireland Limited was formed and membership increased to over one hundred. The MRI Cattle Society of Ireland is a non-profit making organisation and operates under the “Friendly Society” principle as a members’ co-operative under the rules of ICOS. The Society is a shareholder in ICBF.

Throughout the 1990s, the Club and later the Society mounted exhibits and showed cattle at the Ploughing Championships, the Royal Dublin Society shows, Teagasc’s Kildalton Agricultural Events, local shows including Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Kilkenny, Antrim and Pilltown, larger venues such as Tullamore and Limerick Shows as well as Millstreet, Ireland’s premier dairy show.

In 2005, the MRI Society started issuing pedigree certificates from information contained in ICBF’s electronic data base. It took a lot of time and effort to input correct pedigree data to that data base, now called TAURUS, and that work is ongoing.


Society's History - Photo 4  Edward Adamson (centre) of Carrickfergus, with the champion and reserve champion MRI cattle at Limerick Show 1995. Included in the picture are Con Enright (left),Co. Limerick (reserve champion) and Eric Bryan (right), Co. Cork (champion). Neville Gill and wife exhibiting at Tullamore Show in 1997.

(The Society thanks Mr & Mrs Paul Miller and Mrs Ann Bryan for their contribution to this article.)

Latest News

A.I. Sire Statistics 2014

Here is the Top Ten of most used MRI A.I. sires in Ireland with live offspring born in the calendar year 2014:-

AI Code

Bull Name

MY %

AI Company

2014 Offspring




Dovea Genetics





Dovea Genetics





Progressive Genetics





Progressive Genetics



Sunnyside Don


Dovea Genetics





Dovea Genetics





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC





Eurogene / LIC


(Source of data: ICBF)

Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) 2015 - 2020

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are currently posting the application form for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) 2015 - 2020 to herd owners. By entering into the programme farmers are committing to meet the requirements of the BDGP for a full six year period. The closing date for applications is 29 May 2015.

We would like to remind all keepers of MRI cows for suckling purposes, that - as a true dual purpose breed - the MRI are eligible for inclusion in the BDGP as well as all other beef payment schemes.

MRI cow with Limousin bull calf

Progressive Genetics’ MRI Sires 2015

Laurence Feeney, Marketing Manager for Progressive Genetics, has confirmed availability of semen from the following MRI sires:-

Laurence also confirmed that SiryX sexed semen from Dutch MRI sire Marcello is still available at a cost of €45 per straw. Due to the high cost and low usage of sexed semen Progressive Genetics do not carry stock of sexed Marcello semen. Progressive Genetics therefore require intended users to order some weeks in advance, to enable the company to import the semen.

For more information about SiryX sexed semen click here.

To arrange delivery of semen to your local A.I. technician or your own flask, please phone Progressive Genetics on 01 4080743.

Dovea Genetics’ MRI Sires 2015

Pat O'Connor of Dovea last week confirmed availability of semen from the following MRI sires:-

Please note that there may be limited availability of some of the sires listed above!

To arrange delivery of semen to your local A.I. technician or your own flask, please phone Dovea Genetics on 0504 21755.

Damian DN available from Dovea Genetics

Dovea Genetics of Thurles, Co. Tipperary are introducing straws from Dutch MRI bull "Damian DN" for the 2015 spring A.I. season.

Born in Holland in 2007, this Duisenberg x Guido bull's bloodlines may suit many Irish breeders. Damian is classified 100% pedigree MRI, and at time of writing, the following production values apply: Irish EBI 152 (Milk 49); Dutch NVI 162 (Milk 197); German RZG 119 (Milk 121).

According to the German RSH (Rinderzucht Schleswig-Holstein), Damian DN daughters have proven to be well built, with a wide pelvis and sound, well positioned feet and legs. In Germany and Holland, Damian DN is considered easy calving and suitable for heifers. His Dutch ratings for somatic cell count are excellent, no doubt aided by his daughters lengthy teats, however, teat placement is not always ideal. The RSH suggests to pay attention to the udders' comparatively weak central ligament and the slightly low rear udder height.

Official breeding values show Damian DN's daughters to be blessed with immense longevity in Dutch dairy herds, the rating of 251 vastly surpassing the advised average value of 100.

ICBF has issued Damian DN with A.I. code S2301, and any enquiries and orders should be addressed to your local Dovea area representative or their head office (ph. 0504 21755).